The Literary Legacy of Max Cryer

Max Cryer was many things in his life: a television personality, a musician, and a notable author. Some of his favourite topics to write about were cats and the history of words and phrases, especially New Zealand words. In honour of Cryer’s recent passing at the age of 86, here is a round-up of some of his most notable books:

The Godzone dictionary of favourite New Zealand words and phrases / Cryer, Max
“The Godzone Dictionary is a concise A – Z of the words and phrases that make our New Zealand language and speech patterns so different. Language expert Max Cryer examines a wide range of words and phrases, shedding light on their origin and offering helpful definitions. Slang words and expressions feature heavily, while one of the unique features of this book is the large number of Māori words that have become part of our common language in recent years.”–Publisher information.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Curious English words and phrases : the truth behind the expressions we use / Cryer, Max
“‘Cloud nine’, ‘at the drop of a hat’, ‘spitting image’, ‘mollycoddle’, ‘rigmarole’, ’round robin’, ‘spill the beans’, ‘kick the bucket’, ‘balderdash’ and ‘touch wood’. There are so many curious words and phrases that we often use and yet haven’t you ever wondered why we say them, where they come from and what they mean? Written by language expert Max Cryer, Curious Words and Phrases has all the answers behind some of the most interesting and perplexing words and expressions in the English language.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

The cat’s out of the bag : truth and lies about cats / Cryer, Max
“In this book Max Cryer celebrates cats and all they have given to us. He describes the many words and expressions they have inspired, from ‘catnip’ and ‘catwalk’ to ‘the cat’s whiskers’ and ‘raining cats and dogs’, as well as famous cat characters like Garfield, Felix the Cat, The Cat in the Hat and Puss in Boots, songs as varied as ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ and ‘The Cats’ Duet’, and poems like ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’. In other chapters he explores cats’ attributes, the strength of their night vision and sense of smell, their sleep requirements, life expectancy and much more.”–Publisher information”. (adapted from catalogue)

 

Is it true? : the facts behind the things we have been told / Cryer, Max
“In this revealing book, Max Cryer explores the truth or otherwise of facts and beliefs we may have always been told are true, but which on closer examination may not be. In a wide-ranging book encompassing social history, language, music, politics, food, sport, the natural world and much more, we discover the truth behind some of our most cherished beliefs. For example: Do St Bernard dogs really carry brandy? Does Santa Claus come from the North Pole? Did Winston Churchill coin the term ‘Iron Curtain’? ‘OK’ is an American expression, right? Tulips come from Holland, don’t they?” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Every dog has its day : a thousand things you didn’t know about man’s best friend / Cryer, Max
“Every Dog Has Its Day’ is a unique collection of extraordinary stories, feats and facts that will both inform and entertain. Written with a delightfully light touch, Max Cryer dispels some myths about dogs and confirms why they occupy such a special place in our lives.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Curious English words and phrases : the truth behind the expressions we use / Cryer, Max
“Have you ever wondered where terms like ‘Angostura bitters’ and the ‘green room’ come from? Or why we call some people ‘lounge lizards’ and others ‘sugar daddies’? These are just a few of the words and phrases that language expert Max Cryer examines in this fact-filled new book. He explains where such colourful expressions come from, what they mean and how they are used. Along the way he tells a host of colourful anecdotes and dispels quite a few myths too.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Preposterous proverbs : why fine words butter no parsnips / Cryer, Max
“Max Cryer looks at a vast array of proverbs from around the world. He has chosen some of the most interesting and perplexing, and with his characteristic wry wit he analyses their meaning and truth. A great book to dip into, Preposterous Proverbs will take you from Greece (‘A thousand men cannot undress a naked man’) and China (‘A dry finger cannot pick up salt’) to Japan (‘Fools and scissors must be carefully handled’) and India (‘A fat spouse is a quilt for the winter’)”–Publisher information.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Who said that first? : the curious origins of common words and phrases / Cryer, Max
“We might think we know who first said ‘famous for fifteen minutes’, ‘annus horribilis’, ‘the cold war’ and ‘let them eat cake’, but Max Cryer has a surprise or two in store for you. In this very readable book, Max Cryer explores the origins of hundreds of expressions we use and hear every day – and comes up with some surprising findings.” (Catalogue)

 

In praise of cats / Cryer, Max
“Did you know that the Bible does not mention cats at all? Do you know where the word caterpillar comes from? Why do we think cats have nine lives? How much of our great literature refers to cats–and what do authors say? These are the questions that many cat owners have pondered at one time or another. At last, all the cat references in our language have been gathered in one place to provide a informative, fun, and comprehensive resource on the feline species–it’s the cat’s pyjamas.” (Catalogue)

New literature titles to dip into

Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day of the week that is devoted exclusively to reading — Lena Dunham

Take a peek at some of our latest books in literature! Our favourites include ‘Ex Libris’ from Michiko Kakutani and Madison Hamill’s ‘Specimen’, both containing collections of intelligent and exciting essays. Happy reading!

Let me tell you what I mean / Didion, Joan
“Twelve early pieces never before collected that offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of Joan Didion. From her admiration for Hemingway’s sentences to her acknowledgment that Martha Stewart’s story is one that has historically encouraged women in this country, even as it has threatened men, these essays are acutely and brilliantly observed. Each piece is classic Didion: incisive, bemused, and stunningly prescient.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive coverBlueberries, Ellena Savage (ebook)
Blueberries could be described as a collection of essays, the closest term available for a book that resists classification; a blend of personal essay, polemic, prose poetry, true-crime journalism and confession that considers a fragmented life, reflecting on what it means to be a woman, a body, an artist. In crystalline prose, Savage explores the essential questions of the examined life: what is it to desire? What is it to accommodate oneself to the world? And at what cost? (Overdrive description)

Just as I am : a memoir / Tyson, Cicely
“At last, the Academy, Tony, and three-time Emmy Award-winning actor and trailblazer, Cicely Tyson, tells her stunning story, looking back at her six-decade career and life.” (Catalogue)

Ex libris / Kakutani, Michiko
“From ‘the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world’ (Vanity Fair) comes an inspiring and beautifully illustrated selection of the life-changing books that none of us should miss.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
“In scenarios ranging from the mundane to the surreal, Madison Hamill looks back at her younger selves with a sharp eye. Was she good or evil? Ignorant or enlightened? What parts of herself did she give up in order to forge ahead in school, church, work, and relationships, with a self that made sense to others? With wit and intelligence, these shape-shifting essays probe the ways in which a person’s inner and outer worlds intersect and submit to one another.” (Catalogue)

We want it all : an anthology of radical trans poetics
“An anthology of formally inventive writing by trans poets against capital and empire. Writing in dialogue with emancipatory political movements, the intergenerational writers assembled here imagine an altogether overturned world in poems that pursue the particular and multiple trans relationships to desire, embodiment, housing, sex, ecology, history, pop culture, and the working day.” (Catalogue)

Red comet : the short life and blazing art of Sylvia Plath / Clark, Heather L.
“The highly anticipated new biography of Sylvia Plath that focuses on her remarkable literary and intellectual achievements, while restoring the woman behind the long-held myths about her life and art. Along with illuminating readings of the poems themselves, Clark’s meticulous, compassionate research brings us closer than ever to the spirited woman and visionary artist who blazed a trail that still lights the way for women poets the world over.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the land of the cyclops : essays / Knausgård, Karl Ove
In the Land of the Cyclops is Karl Ove Knausgaard’s first collection of essays to be published in English. These essays capture Knausgaard’s remarkable ability to mediate between the personal and the universal, between life and art. Each piece glimmers with Knausgaard’s candor and his longing to authentically see, understand, and experience the world.” (Catalogue)

Latest in literature

Some of our most recent literature additions feature poetry, essays, and short stories that celebrate togetherness. New and established authors have managed to expertly weave together optimism and reflection in order to create stunning collections of literature that encompass what it means to be connected in today’s world.

Ko Aotearoa tātou, we are New Zealand : an anthology
“What is New Zealand now, in all its rich variety and contradiction, darkness and light? Who are New Zealanders? In a society where the arts, especially marginalised arts, are under threat, this anthology shows that creative work can explore, document, interrogate, re-imagine – and celebrate – who we are as citizens of this diverse country, in a diverse world” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover A Measure of Belonging, Cinelle Barnes (ebook)
America in 2020 is at a crossroads. We are searching for home in places where belonging and identity are often contested. Urgent, necessary, funny, and poignant, these essays from new and established voices confront the complexities of the South’s relationship with race, uncovering the particular difficulties and profound joys of being a southerner in the 21st century. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Broken lines : in charcoal
This anthology represents the work of 37 Canterbury poets, some new, some emerging and others who have become well-established over the last ten years, the time period sampled here. One of the things these poets have in common is the shared experience of attending poetry classes held by Joanna Preston. Some have become regular participants, as a community of poets has become established, a safe place in which to expose and share tentative beginnings. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Resistencia : poems of protest and revolution
“With a powerful and poignant introduction from Julia Alvarez, Resistencia is an extraordinary collection, rooted in a strong tradition of protest poetry and voiced by icons of the movement and some of the most exciting writers today. Within this momentous collection, poets representing every Latin American country grapple with identity, place, and belonging… Included in English translation alongside their original language.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover The Best American Essays 2020, André Aciman (ebook)
A collection of the year’s best essays selected by André Aciman, author of the worldwide bestseller Call Me by Your Name. (Overdrive description)

Biopsies : stories of struggle and hope in South Auckland / Judkins, Greg
“A medical centre provides a hub to these loosely inter-connected fictional stories, the scope of which pans across a slew of people living and dying with disability, social isolation, humour, conflict, hope and uncertainty” (Catalogue)

Fire front : First Nations poetry and power today
“This important anthology, curated by Gomeroi poet and academic Alison Whittaker, showcases Australia’s most-respected First Nations poets alongside some of the rising stars. Divided into five thematic sections, each one is introduced by an essay from a leading Aboriginal writer and thinker… This incredible book is a testament to the renaissance of First Nations poetry happening in Australia right now.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Together in a sudden strangeness : America’s poets respond to the pandemic
“As the novel coronavirus and its devastating effects began to spread in the United States and around the world, Alice Quinn reached out to poets across the country to see if, and what, they were writing under quarantine. In these pages, we find poets grieving for relatives they are separated from or recovering from illness themselves, attending to suddenly complicated household tasks or turning to literature for strength.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Tūhono 2020, Wellington City Libraries (ebook)
“Tūhono : connection. This is the theme that binds together all 197 poems you are about to read, which were contributed by young Wellington writers aged 5-18 and collected by Wellington City Libraries throughout the month of November 2020. Taken together, these poems represent a constellation of thoughts, ideas, worries, anxieties, hopes, loves, and dreams about how we find ways to connect, even in the face of adversity. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

How we write: New literature titles

Reading gives us an insight into the minds of the authors – what’s on their minds, and what they might be feeling. Delve a little deeper with These Fevered Days, which looks into key points of Emily Dickinson’s life, or You Have a Lot to Lose, in which C.K. Stead talks about his writing career. Personal poetry and essays also feature, with authors such as Joy Harjo and Charly Cox opening conversations around identity and making connections in our modern world.

Image from fishpond.co.nz AUP new poets. 6
“Post-it notes and shopping lists, Japanese monks and children’s lungs: AUP New Poets 6 is a deep dive into the rich diversity of New Zealand poetry today. Relaunched under the editorship of Anna Jackson in 2019, AUP New Poets 6 includes substantial selections from the poetry of Ben Kemp, Vanessa Crofskey and Chris Stewart.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover These Fevered Days, Martha Ackmann (ebook)
“On August 3, 1845, young Emily Dickinson declared, “All things are ready” and with this resolute statement, her life as a poet began. Despite spending her days almost entirely “at home” (the occupation listed on her death certificate), Dickinson’s interior world was extraordinary. Utilizing thousands of archival letters and poems as well as never-before-seen photos, These Fevered Days constructs a remarkable map of Emily Dickinson’s inner life. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover An American Sunrise, Joy Harjo (ebook)
In the early 1800s, the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their original lands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory, which is now part of Oklahoma. Two hundred years later, Joy Harjo returns to her family’s lands and opens a dialogue with history. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover How to Be a Heroine, Samantha Ellis (ebook)
On a pilgrimage to Wuthering Heights, Samantha Ellis found herself arguing with her best friend about which heroine was best: Jane Eyre or Cathy Earnshaw. She was all for wild, passionate Cathy; but her friend found Cathy silly, a snob, while courageous Jane makes her own way. How To Be A Heroine is Samantha’s funny, touching, inspiring exploration of the role of heroines, and our favourite books, in all our lives – and how they change over time, for better or worse, just as we do. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Lost Transmissions, Desirina Boskovich (ebook)
Science fiction and fantasy reign over popular culture now. Lost Transmissions is a rich trove of forgotten and unknown, imagined-but-never-finished, and under-appreciated-but-influential works from those imaginative genres, as well as little-known information about well-known properties. The book examines Jules Verne’s lost novel; AfroFuturism and Space Disco; E.T.’s scary beginnings; Weezer’s never-made space opera; and the 8,000-page metaphysical diary of Philip K. Dick. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover You have a Lot to Lose, C. K. Stead (ebook)
New Zealand’s most extraordinary literary everyman – poet, novelist, critic, activist – C. K. Stead told the story of his first twenty-three years.. In this second volume of his memoirs, Stead takes us from the moment he left New Zealand for a job in rural Australia, through study abroad, writing and a university career. It is a tumultuous tale of literary friends and foes and of navigating a personal and political life through the social change of the 1960s and 70s. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Validate me / Cox, Charly
“From the bestselling author of She Must Be Mad comes Charly Cox’s second collection of poetry and prose. This is an account of a life lived online. Swiping for approval. Scrolling for gratification. Searching for connection. From the glow of a screen in the middle of the night, to the harsh glare of the hospital waiting room, Validate Me is a raw and honest look at the highs and the lows of a digital life. The new voice of a generation, Charly’s words have the power to make us all feel less alone.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Storyville!, John Dufresne (ebook)
In Storyville!, seasoned guide John Dufresne provides practical insight into the building blocks of fiction, including how to make the reader see your characters, create a suspenseful plot, and revise, revise, revise. Storyville! is a combination handbook and notebook, with original prompts and exercises crafted with Dufresne’s singular dry wit and Evan Wondolowski’s playful and illuminating graphics on every page. (Overdrive description)

Habitat threshold / Santos Perez, Craig
“With Habitat Threshold, Craig Santos Perez has crafted a timely collection of eco-poetry that explores his ancestry as a native Pacific Islander, the ecological plight of his homeland, and his fears for the future. Through experimental forms, free verse, prose, haiku, sonnets, satire, and a method he calls “recycling,” Perez has created a diverse collection filled with passion.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover The Details, Tegan Bennett Daylight (Audiobook)
Tegan Bennett Daylight has led a life in books – as a writer, a teacher and a critic, but first and foremost as a reader. In this deeply insightful and intimate work, Daylight describes how her reading has nourished her life, and how life has informed her reading. Each chapter is a revelation, and a celebration of how books offer not an escape from ‘real life’ but a richer engagement with the business of living. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

New eBooks – Poetry and Prose

If you’re anything like us, you’ll be missing the ‘new books’ displays in our libraries, and the feeling of picking up a glossy new title and deciding to take it home. While eBooks don’t provide that amazing new-book-smell, we’re still excited to introduce you to fresh content and help you find your next great read.

These literary picks cover a range of formats: poetry, author biographies, journalism, and even comics. Get amongst, pick something you like, and read it wherever you happen to be today.

Overdrive cover The Literature Book, DK (Audiobook)
Exploring more than 100 of the world’s most important literary works and the literary geniuses that created them, this book is the perfect introduction to the subject of literature and writing. The audiobook also offers a deeper look into the famed fiction of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and more, as in-depth literary criticism and interesting authorial biographies give each work of literature a new meaning. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Little History of Poetry, John Carey (ebook)
John Carey tells the stories behind the world’s greatest poems, from the oldest surviving one written nearly four thousand years ago to those being written today. Carey looks at poets whose works shape our views of the world, such as Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Yeats. He also looks at more recent poets, like Derek Walcott, and Maya Angelou, who have started to question what makes a poem “great” in the first place. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Recollections of My Non-Existence, Rebecca Solnit (Audiobook)
In 1981, Rebecca Solnit rented a studio apartment in San Francisco. There, she began to come to terms with the epidemic of violence against women around her, and the authority figures that routinely disbelieved her. Place and the growing culture of activism liberated her, as did the magical world of literature and books. Here is an electric account of the pauses and gains of feminism in the past forty years; and an extraordinary portrait of an artist, by a seminal American writer. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Unfinished Business, Vivian Gornick (ebook)
In nine stunning essays, the inimitable Vivian Gornick returns to the books that have shaped her. From a reporter in 1970s New York, to a feminist negotiating love and independence, to a writer in the jubilant sanctity of older age: Gornick’s life is compelling, and in the characters of literature she finds versions of herself through the years, each time she opens the page. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Spinoff Book, Toby Manhire (ebook)
Five years ago, The Spinoff burst onto New Zealand’s media scene with smart, screamingly funny and seriously relevant writing. Since then, it has enraged and inspired, respectably won Website of the Year at the 2019 Voyager Media Awards, and expanded into television, podcasts and now – shockingly – a book. Edited by Toby Manhire, it’s jam-packed with The Spinoff’s best work, along with artwork by Toby Morris, photography, collage, poetry and a clutch of new and exclusive essays. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Monster, She Wrote, Lisa Kröger (ebook)
From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Long Story Short, Lisa Brown (ebook)
Long Story Short offers 100 pithy and skewering three-panel literary summaries, from curriculum classics like Don Quixote, Lord of the Flies, and Jane Eyre to modern favorites like Beloved and Atonement. Lisa Brown’s Long Story Short is the perfect way to turn a traipse through what your English teacher called “the canon” into a frolic—or to happily cram for the next occasion that requires you to appear bookish and well-read. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Storyville!, John Dufresne (ebook)
Whether you are daunted by a blinking cursor or frustrated trying to get the people in your head onto the page, writing stories can be intimidating. A do-it-yourself manual for the apprentice fiction writer, Storyville! demystifies that process; its bold graphics take you inside the writer’s comfortingly chaotic mind and show you how stories are made. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong (ebook)
Steeped in war and cultural upheaval and wielding a fresh new language, Vuong writes about the most profound subjects – love and loss, conflict, grief, memory and desire – and attends to them all with lines that feel newly-minted, graceful in their cadences, passionate and hungry in their tender, close attention. This is an unusual, important book… its blend of humanity and power make it one of the best first collections of poetry to come out of America in years. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Recent Literature for International Women’s Day

“I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

To celebrate International Women’s Day for 2020, our recent literature picks for this month feature a wealth of outstanding female writers. We take a look at seasoned favourites such as Elena Ferrante and Louisa May Alcott, as well as fresh voices in poetry and biographical literature.

This year the theme for IWD is ‘Each for Equal’ – how we can use our individuality as part of a bigger whole to stand up for gender equality. In this booklist, we’ve focused on the shared experience of womanhood, as well as coming-of-age in a time where women’s voices have never been louder or more important. There’s heaps to pick from for your next read, and we guarantee you’ll find inspiration, empathy, joy and sorrow, and perhaps even a deeper understanding of what it means to be female in today’s world.

Overdrive cover She Speaks, Yvette Cooper (ebook)
“In this timely and personal selection of exceptional speeches, Yvette Cooper MP tells the rousing story of female oratory. From Boudica to Greta Thunberg and Margaret Thatcher to Malala, Yvette introduces each speech and demonstrates how powerful and persuasive oratory can be decidedly female. Written by one of our leading public voices, this is an inspirational call for women to be heard across the globe.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Incidental inventions / Ferrante, Elena
“‘This is my last column, after a year that has scared and inspired me.’ With these words, Elena Ferrante bid farewell to her year-long collaboration with the Guardian. For a full year she penned short pieces; the subjects ranged from first love to climate change, from enmity among women to the adaptation of her novels to film and TV. Gathered here  and accompanied by… Andrea Ucini’s intelligent, witty, and beautiful illustrations, this is a must for all Ferrante fans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Vanity Fair’s women on women
“Vanity Fair’s Women on Women features thirty of the best profiles, essays, and columns on female subjects written by female contributors to the magazine over the past thirty-five years. Many of these pieces constitute the first draft of a larger cultural narrative. They tell a singular story about female icons and identity over the last four decades—and about the magazine as it has evolved under the editorial direction of Tina Brown, Graydon Carter, and now Radhika Jones, who has written a compelling introduction.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Crazy Brave, Joy Harjo (ebook)
“In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, Crazy Brave is a haunting, visionary memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary in finding a voice.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Anne Boyd Rioux (ebook)
In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Anne Boyd Rioux brings a fresh and engaging looks at the circumstances leading Louisa May Alcott to write Little Women and why this beloved story of family and community ties set in the Civil War has resonated with audiences across time. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Naked in the Promised Land, Lillian Faderman (ebook)
“Born in 1940, Lillian Faderman is the only child of an uneducated and unmarried Jewish woman who left Latvia to seek a better life in America. Desperately seeking to make her life meaningful, she studied at Berkeley; paying her way by working as a pin-up model and burlesque dancer… she became a brilliant student and the woman who becomes a loving partner, a devoted mother, an acclaimed writer and ground-breaking pioneer of gay and lesbian scholarship. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Make it scream, make it burn : essays / Jamison, Leslie
“The author of New York Times best sellers like The Empathy Exams, Jamison returns with 14 fresh essays blending memoir, criticism, and journalism. Among her subjects: 52 Blue, the world’s loneliest whale; the awful yet somehow remote Sri Lankan civil war; and a museum exhibiting relics of broken relationships. With the virtuosic synthesis of memoir, criticism, and journalism for which she has become known, Jamison offers 14 new essays that are by turns ecstatic, searching, staggering, and wise.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover I Hope We Choose Love, Kai Cheng Thom (ebook)
“A heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions that haunt social movements today. With the author’s characteristic eloquence and honesty, I Hope We Choose Love proposes heartfelt solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, family, vengeance, and forgiveness. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Ordinary Girls, Jaquira Díaz (ebook)
In this searing memoir, Jaquira Díaz writes fiercely and eloquently of her challenging girlhood and triumphant coming of age. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz’s memoir provides a vivid portrait of a life lived in (and beyond) the borders of Puerto Rico and its complicated history—and reads as electrically as a novel.
(Adapted from Overdrive description)

Constellations : reflections from life / Gleeson, Sinéad
“How do you tell the story of life that is no one thing? How do you tell the story of a life in a body, as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood? And how do you tell that story when you are not just a woman but a woman in Ireland? In this powerful and daring memoir in essays Sinéad Gleeson does that very thing. In writing that is in tradition of some of our finest writers and yet still in her own spirited, warm voice, Sinéad takes on journey that is both personal and yet universal in its resonance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Local Literature: New Books

We’re reading a lot of local fiction and non-fiction lately, because it’s so good! Stories from New Zealanders make us feel reminiscent and connected, as well as providing the satisfaction that comes from supporting local writers. Some of these voices are new, some of them have been around for a while but still have new perspectives to share.

This month, notable titles include the swirling poetry of Between You and these Bones; and The Braided River, an anthology of migrant essays compiled by Diane Comer, who draws on how essays continue to be an expression of oneself and migration in a shifting world. We finish off with a current Librarian’s Choice, All Who Live on Islands, which perhaps proves Comer’s hypothesis true.

The paper nautilus : a trilogy / Jackson, Michael
The Paper Nautilus is about loss – the forms it takes, how we go on living in the face of it, and the mysterious ways that new life and new beginnings are born of brokenness. The paper nautilus provides a vivid image of this interplay of death and rebirth since, for new life to begin, the angelically beautiful but fragile shell that sustained a former life must be shattered. This book crosses and blends genres most engagingly.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Haare Williams : words of a kaumātua / Williams, Haare
“A kaumātua – an elder of the Māori people – reflects in poetry and prose on his journey from te ao Maori on the East Coast to contemporary Auckland, New Zealand. And in his poetry and prose, in te reo Maori and English, Haare has a unique ability to capture both the wisdom of te ao Maori and the transformation of that world. This book, edited and introduced by acclaimed author Witi Ihimaera, brings together the poetry and prose of Haare Williams to produce a work that is a biography of the man and his times, a celebration of a kaumatua and an exemplar of his wisdom.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The braided river : migration and the personal essay / Comer, Diane
“This book explores contemporary migration to New Zealand through an examination of 200 personal essays written by 37 migrants from 20 different countries, spanning all ages and life stages. Throughout, Diane Comer, both migrant and essayist herself, demonstrates the versatility of the personal essay as a means to analyze and understand migration, an issue with increasing relevance worldwide.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Black and the White / Cochrane, Geoff
“The Black and the White is a new work – witty, fearless, formidably concise – from one of the most distinctive voices in New Zealand Poetry.” (Source: Victoria University Press)

All the juicy pastures : Greville Texidor and New Zealand / Schwass, Margot
“Greville Texidor – one-time Bloomsbury insider, globetrotting chorus-line dancer, former heroin addict, anarchist militia-woman and recent inmate of Holloway Prison – became a writer only after arriving in New Zealand as a refugee in 1940. All the Juicy Pastures tells the story of Greville Texidor’s extraordinary life in full for the first time, and puts her small but essential body of work in vivid context. Illustrated with many never-before-seen photographs, it restores an essential New Zealand writer to new generations of readers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Between you and these bones / Soul, F. D.
“Acclaimed Instagram poet F.D. Soul (@featherdownsoul) debuts a new poetry collection, telling her own invigorating, unapologetic narrative of love, loss, and adversity. Soul’s words pulse, they are alive on the page, attesting to the significance of Between You and These Bones in the modern world. From celebrated New Zealand poetess F.D. Soul comes her highly anticipated second collection of poetry, prose, illustrations, and wisdom.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

All who live on islands / Lu, Rose
All Who Live on Islands introduces a bold new voice in New Zealand literature. In these intimate and entertaining essays, Rose Lu takes us through personal history to explore friendship, the weight of stories told and not told about diverse cultures, and the reverberations of our parents’ and grandparents’ choices. Frank and compassionate, Rose Lu’s stories illuminate the cultural and linguistic questions that migrants face, as well as what it is to be a young person living in 21st-century Aotearoa New Zealand.” (Adapteed from Catalogue)

New in Literature

New literature has arrived! Spanning local and international writers, this month we’ve got an abundance of fresh poetry, essays, and short story anthologies. Find out who’s writing what in New Zealand in Fresh Ink, or perhaps delve deep into the intricacies and ambiguities of Shakespeare’s works with This is Shakespeare. 

I’m telling the truth, but I’m lying : essays / Ikpi, Bassey
“Having emigrated from Nigeria to America at age four, Ikpi assimilated uneasily but became a spoken word artist with HBO’s Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam. Strong on the outside but crumbling on the inside, she was eventually hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar II. Viscerally raw and honest, the result is an exploration of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of who we are–and the ways, as honest as we try to be, each of these stories can also be a lie.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Labels and Other Stories, Louis de Bernières (ebook)
Full of wit, warmth and charm, Louis de Bernières’ Labels and Other Stories features tales from throughout his career as a masterful storyteller and transports us around the globe, from the London Underground to Turkish ruins to the banks of the Amazon. In this worldly and entertaining collection of stories, we are equally enchanted by familiar and fantastical occurrences, by de Bernières’ wry sense of humour and powerful imagination. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Coventry : essays / Cusk, Rachel
“Lauded for the precision of her prose and the quality of her insight, Cusk is a writer of uncommon brilliance. Coventry encompasses memoir, cultural criticism, and writing about literature, with pieces on family life, gender, and politics. Named for an essay in Granta, this collection is pure Cusk and essential reading for our age: fearless, unrepentantly erudite, and dazzling to behold.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fresh ink : a collection of voices from Aotearoa New Zealand, 2019.
“An anthology of short stories, extracts from novels, poetry and artwork, from established and respected New Zealand writers as well as some lively ‘fresh ink’ from previously unpublished literary voices.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Counting backwards : poems, 1975-2017 / Dunmore, Helen
“Winner of the Costa Book of the Year for her final collection, Inside the Wave, Helen Dunmore was as spellbinding storyteller in her poetry and in her prose.  Counting Backwards is a retrospective covering ten collections written over four decades, bringing together all the poems she included in her earlier selection, Out of the Blue (2001), with all those from her three later collections, Glad of These Times (2007), The Malarkey (2012) and Inside the Wave (2017), along with a number of earlier or previously uncollected poems.” (Catalogue)

This is Shakespeare / Smith, Emma
“This electrifying new book thrives on revealing, not resolving, the ambiguities of Shakespeare’s plays and their changing topicality. It introduces an intellectually, theatrically and ethically exciting writer who engages with intersectionality…  The Shakespeare in this book poses awkward questions rather than offering bland answers, always implicating us in working out what it might mean. This is Shakespeare. And he needs your attention.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover joinedupwriting, Roger McGough (ebook)
For fifty years, Roger McGough has delighted readers with poetry that is at once playful and poignant, intimate and universal. In his latest collection, he explores the whole gamut of the human experience, from forgotten friendships and family life, to the trauma of war and contemporary politics, wittily showing us who we are in all our shades of light and dark. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Mouth Full of Blood, Toni Morrison (Audiobook)
Spanning four decades, these essays, speeches are heart-stoppingly introduced by a prayer for the dead of 9/11, a meditation on Martin Luther King and a eulogy for James Baldwin. Morrison’s Nobel lecture, on the power of language, is accompanied by lectures to Amnesty International and the Newspaper Association of America. A Mouth Full of Blood is a powerful, erudite and essential gathering of ideas that speaks to us all. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

A booklist on books about books – recent literature titles

With an influx of new content coming in, we thought this month’s recent literature picks had a recurring theme. They discuss what makes a great story, how to write one, and perhaps most importantly, how to appreciate one. From libraries to publishers, from authors to classic novels, these titles give an insight into how we can write for an audience as well as truly enjoy literacy in our lives.

We’re mostly intrigued by the titles For the Love of Books and Faber & Faber, which give a new insight into the often-overlooked histories of writing and publishing.

Overdrive cover Words Fail Me, Patricia T. O’Conner (ebook)
“Whether you need to improve your skills for work or school, or aspire to the Great American Novel, a grounding in grammar, spelling, and punctuation is essential—not just to make you look like a professional but to communicate effectively in emails, essays, or anything you need to write. With these simple, straightforward tips, you can learn how to sort your thoughts and make sentences that make sense.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Faber & Faber, Toby Faber (ebook)
“Published to celebrate Faber’s 90th anniversary, this is the story of one of the world’s greatest publishing houses – a delight for all readers who are curious about the business of writing. The result is both a vibrant history and a hymn to the role of literature in all our lives.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Plotted, Daniel Harmon (ebook)
“This incredibly wide-ranging collection of maps—all inspired by literary classics—offers readers a new way of looking at their favorite fictional worlds.  Sure to reignite a love for old favorites and spark fresh interest in more recent works as well, Plotted provides a unique new way of appreciating the lands of the human imagination.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Anatomy of Story, John Truby (ebook)
“John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry. Based on the lessons in his award-winning class, Great Screenwriting, The Anatomy of Story draws on a broad range of philosophy and mythology, offering fresh techniques and insightful anecdotes alongside Truby’s own unique approach for how to build an effective, multifaceted narrative.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Library Book, Susan Orlean (ebook)
“After moving to Los Angeles, Susan Orlean became fascinated by a mysterious local crime that has gone unsolved since it was carried out on the morning of 29 April 1986: who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, ultimately destroying more than 400,000 books, and perhaps even more perplexing, why? Orlean uses this… as a lens through which to tell the story of all libraries – their history, their meaning and their uncertain future as they adapt and redefine themselves in a digital world.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The making of Jane Austen / Looser, Devoney
“Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today?  The Making of Jane Austen turns to the people, performances, activism, and images that fostered Austen’s early fame, laying the groundwork for the beloved author we think we know. Drawing from unexplored material, Looser examines how echoes of that work reverberate in our explanations of Austen’s literary and cultural power.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Finding true connections : how to learn and write about a family member’s history / Thomas, Gareth St. John
“The Emotional Inheritance division of Exisle Publishing works… to capture the life stories of elderly family members. This approach is intended to help these generations capture their stories so that they can leave a lasting, meaningful legacy. Now, Finding True Connections clearly and simply sets out the steps necessary for you to undertake this process yourself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For the love of books : stories of literary lives, banned books, author feuds, extraordinary characters, and more / Tarrant, Graham
“A light-hearted book about books and the people who write them for all lovers of literature. A treasure trove of compelling facts, riveting anecdotes, and extraordinary characters, For the Love of Books is a book about books–and the inside stories about the people who write them. Learn how books evolved, what lies behind some of the greatest tales ever told, and who’s really who in the world of fiction.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Literary memoirs – new stories through essays and poetry

Our latest picks bring together a huge range of authors; some who are new to the game as well as some award-winning writers. Their stories bind together to show what it means to face adversity with resilience. These books, all of which are accessible digitally, bring humour and honesty, as well as an appreciation of what it means to share our stories.

Overdrive cover Common People, Kit de Waal (ebook)
Common People is a collection of essays, poems and memoir written in celebration, not apology: these are narratives rich in barbed humour, reflecting the depth and texture of working-class life, the joy and sorrow, the solidarity and the differences.. Here, Kit de Waal brings together thirty-three established and emerging writers who invite you to experience the world through their eyes(Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde (ebook)
Winner of the 1988 Before Columbus Foundation National Book Award, this path-breaking collection of essays is a clarion call to build communities that nurture our spirit. “This was my first time reading Audre Lorde (finally!) and now I can’t wait to devour everything she ever wrote. This was the kind of book that you end up highlighting so many great quotes, words you want to memorize, apply, breathe. Empowering read.” — Litsy
(Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee (ebook)
In Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee plots a decade of her life in New York City… Weaving together her joys and sorrows, expectations and uncertainties, aspirations and realities, the result is an exhilarating collection of essays about love and friendship, failure and suffering, and above all hope. Join Meg on her heart-wrenching journey, as she cuts the difficult path to finding herself and finding home. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Certain Loneliness, Sandra Gail Lambert (ebook)
After contracting polio as a child, Sandra Gail Lambert progressed from braces and crutches to a manual wheelchair to a power wheelchair—but loneliness has remained a constant, from the wild claustrophobia of a child in body casts to just yesterday, trapped at home, gasping from pain. A Certain Loneliness is a meditative and engaging memoir-in-essays that explores the intersection of disability, queerness, and female desire with frankness and humor.  (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Show Them a Good Time, Nicole Flattery (ebook)
An urgent and unforgettable collection of stories, Show Them a Good Time explores types – men and women, their assigned roles and meanings – in modern society. The characters in these magnificently accomplished stories are haunted as much by the future as they are by their pasts. Exuberant, irreverent and loaded with dark humour, Show Them a Good Time marks the arrival of a strikingly original new Irish voice in fiction. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Science of Storytelling, Will Storr (ebook)
Stories mould who we are, from our character to our cultural identity. In this scalpel-sharp, thought-provoking book, Will Storr demonstrates how master storytellers manipulate and compel us… Applying dazzling psychological research and cutting-edge neuroscience to the foundations of our myths and archetypes, he shows how we can use these tools to tell better stories – and make sense of our chaotic modern world. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, Michele Filgate (ebook)
Fifteen brilliant writers explore what we don’t talk to our mothers about, and how it affects us, for better or for worse. While some of the writers in this book are estranged from their mothers, others are extremely close. André Aciman writes about what it was like to have a deaf mother. Melissa Febos uses mythology as a lens to look at her close-knit relationship with her psychotherapist mother. And Julianna Baggott talks about having a mom who tells her everything. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover White, Bret Easton Ellis (ebook)
Bret Easton Ellis has wrestled with the double-edged sword of fame and notoriety for more than thirty years now, since Less Than Zero catapulted him into the limelight in 1985, earning him devoted fans and, perhaps, even fiercer enemies. He encounters various positions and voices controversial opinions, more often than not fighting the status quo. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault, Cathy Guisewite (ebook)
From the creator of the iconic “Cathy” comic strip comes her first collection of funny, wise, poignant, and incredibly honest essays about being a woman in what she lovingly calls “the panini generation.” Now Guisewite returns with her signature wit and warmth with this debut essay collection about another time of big transition, when everything starts changing and disappearing without permission: aging parents, aging children, aging self stuck in the middle. (Overdrive description)